Teasers and Teasels


Although most of this blog is about plants and gardening, I occasionally do have other thoughts.  People might ask me not to, but what can you do?

So, here’s today’s thought.  I read that Covid-19 has (so far) cost £322 billion in the UK.  That’s a lot of money, I think.  And then I think, I wonder how many stars there are in the Milky Way galaxy.  The answer seems to be 250 billion ± 150 billion.  Therefore, we’ve spent on this wretched virus about £1 for every star in the galaxy.

Astronomical sums…

Right, plants.

I’ve been sent this image of a teasel, Dipsacus fullonum.

Sara's teasel A


Dipsacus is from the Greek for thirst for water, and refers to the cup-like formation where two leaves join at the stem, and a small reservoir is found.  This often has insects floating in it, which makes you wonder whether water is all they might be thirsty for.  And about Triffids.

The plant in the photo is definitely a bit of a Triffid, don’t you think?  The Guinness World Record teasel stands at 10ft 6.77 inches tall.  This one, in the garden of one of our gardeners, is just a little bit less, although accurate measurement is difficult.

For me, teasels are at their best when goldfinches are hanging off them, pulling out the seeds.  Not long now before the goldfinches get a feast.  :~))

Teasel gets its common name, and the second part of its botanical name, fullonum, because they were used by fullers in the textile industry to full, or tease, cloth by raising the nap on it. Fields of them were grown, with the cultivated form, the Fuller’s Teasel, having stouter, more recurved spines on the seed head.

And coming back to that cup of water with dead insects in it, research in 2011 seems to show that putting dead insects in the water doesn’t change the height or general stature of the plant, but it does increase seed set.  So yes, a partially carnivorous Triffid.

Well done for growing a goliath of a plant!

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